“ For He knows our frame; He remembers that we are dust”–Psalm 103:14.
My Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ Jesus our Lord,
As we face the new week that is before us, I want to draw our Monday encouragement from one of the most beloved of the Psalms authored by David, Psalm 103.
Most of us will remember this Psalm for its triumphant exhortation, sounded in the first two verses. David enjoins us to “ Bless” the “ Holy Name” of our Lord and King. And then, in the final three verses of the Psalm, David returns to this theme as he calls upon all of creation to join the redeemed in their chorus of praise to God.
It is also this Psalm that beautifully recalls our Lord’s “ steadfast love and mercy” (vv. 4, 11), and His forgiveness of our “ transgressions,” which He graciously removes (and has removed!) “ as far as the east is from the west” (v. 12).
It is in the midst of this wonderful chapter of the Psalter that we discover the words quoted above from verse 14. I think of this verse as somewhat of a ‘reality sandwich.’ And what I mean by this is that it is placed strategically in between two apparently incongruent sections of the Psalm.
Above, in verses 11-13, is the comforting truth that our God loves us as “ a father.” And because of this infinite paternal love, He always demonstrates His compassion for all of us who “ fear Him.” How comforting this is!
But underneath verse 14 we discover something that, while true, is most unsettling:
“ As for man, his days are like grass; he flourishes like a flower of the field; for the wind passes over it, and it is gone, and its place knows it no more” (vv. 15-16).
So, here’s our ‘sandwich.’ We are loved by our Father who has forgiven all of our transgressions out of the eternal well-spring of His faithful compassion and never-failing mercies! But, we are also like a flower or blade of grass on the roadside, exposed to the wind and destined to disappear.
In between these two realities, there is this strange assurance that our loving Father “ remembers” both our origin and our fragility. We are, after all, formed out of the “ dust” of the ground, and our time of flourishing and vitality is awfully short when compared with the full range of human history. We are a fragile people, easily extinguished by the wind that blows across us. Franky, on this side of the Garden of Eden, it takes very little to upset our lives and bring us into serious peril. In fact, this is exactly what we have witnessed these many months enduring the ravages of a microscopic virus that has twisted us into human pretzels, filled us with anxiety, and taken down so many across the globe.
And this is not only an apt depiction of our physical finitude, but also well-describes our spiritual infirmity.
We are easily tempted and blasted off course by the devil’s schemes. It takes just a little fraction of ill-timed adversity to rattle our faith and our confidence, the smallest of inconveniences to discourage and depress us, the thinnest of deceptive allurements to entice us away from the worship of our Lord, and the most negligible of seductive suggestions to compromise our walk in the holiness that our Father requires. Dust we are!
Perhaps this is what our Savior had in mind when He spoke so bluntly to the braggadocios Simon Peter, a disciple who was certain that he was not ‘dusty’ like the rest of us:
“Simon, Simon, behold, Satan demanded to have you, that he might sift you like wheat”(Luke 22:31).
Until Jesus comes, we will be in many respects very ‘dust-like,’ even as we are being sanctified.
But here is our encouragement for this new Monday.
“ He remembers. . . .”
While we might be living in denial of our fragility (both physically and spiritually) as was Peter in that moment, our Father “ remembers” what we’re really made of and how weak and frail we actually are.
We are not supermen. We are not immune to the destructive winds that blow our way. We are easily led astray, compromised, distracted, seduced, and one day we will all return to dust.
But we have a Father in heaven who “ knows” this in all of His incomprehensible omniscience. And because he “ knows our frame,” He is patient, merciful, longsuffering, compassionate, and forgiving. Even His discipline, which might cause us momentary distress and pain, is tender and brimming with grace!
Your Father “ remembers” you today! He made you in the first place and is well acquainted with your weaknesses. And He redeemed you by the blood and righteousness of His Son. And you live in the middle of these two realities. The first, His covenantal love, is meant to sustain us in view of the second, our weakness and frailty. This is how we make it through each day! We remember that He “ remembers” us! And when we embrace this truth, it is then and only then that we can “ Bless the Lord, O my soul, and all that is within me”!
I love you all so very much, and I pray for each of you always!